Remote work is the new workplace reality. According to a survey by Worldwide ERC and Deloitte, most companies (both large and small) anticipate more of a remote workforce, with about 64-72% implementing some form of work-from-anywhere policy. However, some companies may adopt a hybrid work model, especially those that offer services dependent on physical interaction with clients.
In behavioral health and human services, it's more imperative than ever to ensure you have a robust (and reliable) system to manage your remote and hybrid workforce. Here are factors to consider to make a smooth transition, along with an overview of what remote workforce management actually means. You'll also get a closer look at technological solutions, specific digital tools, and remote workforce management systems that can ensure better outcomes for both employee and employer.
What Is Remote Workforce Management?
Remote workforce management is the use of efficient systems and productive practices to manage remote employees. This also involves maintaining communication among remote workers and collaborative work to achieve a common goal. With the right set of digital technology tools and strategies for behavioral health and human service organizations, you can comfortably manage a remote workforce without negatively affecting employee productivity.
How to Manage Remote and Hybrid Workforces in the Behavioral Health Industry
Remote and hybrid work in the behavioral health and human services industry requires a unique approach to effectively manage challenges such as client information privacy and security. As you adopt remote work as part of your everyday operations, it's critical to ensure your remote workers’ behaviors stay compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to secure and protect patient information.
Here are some operations in a remote work environment that may lead to a breach in HIPAA:
- Unsecure remote network access: The use of an unsecured remote network increases the risk of third-party access to patient information. This is common when remote workers use their own mobile devices without adequate encryption to connect to the company’s workspace and network.
- Paperwork: Pertinent patient information is exposed when remote workers still carry out their tasks using papers or when they print documents containing confidential client information.
- Data breaches: Health organizations that outsource data security to unregulated external vendors are at a higher risk of experiencing a breach in relevant client data.
To keep the behaviors of your remote workers compliant with HIPAA, it's crucial to digitize remote tasks through a secured network for employee access. For instance, ContinuumCloud's cloud-based electronic health record system is designed specifically for behavioral health and human service organizations. It is HIPAA compliant, ensuring the security of patient data, and it is accessible using a desktop or mobile device.
Essential Factors to Consider While Transitioning to a Hybrid Workplace
Despite the advantages of operating a remote workforce (e.g., lower overhead if no physical building is required), a hybrid workplace may still be necessary for some organizations. Adopting a hybrid workplace model requires adjustments for a successful transition. Behavioral health and human service organizations that intend to adopt a hybrid workforce need to set up work policies and consider the following factors:
The Type of Office Design
Select an office design after considering team members with job activities executed in the office. This helps you to allocate the resources necessary for them to work and saves the cost of procuring office materials some team members don't need. For instance, the work arrangement needs for your marketing team may differ from those of your mental health counselors.
The Specific Type of Digital Technology to Use
Digital technology tools such as mobile apps and video conferencing tools provide an option for managing a hybrid workforce. For example, mobile devices have apps that enable you to monitor your remote workers’ teamwork performance and progress. Your remote and office workers can connect using video conferencing tools to attend virtual team meetings.
Streamlining communication is a core responsibility of project managers to reduce communication gaps between team members. Remote managers are tasked with determining the best communication tools and channels to maintain the connection between team members. You can choose to communicate with your team using a secured chat messaging system, emails, phone calls, and video calls to strengthen employee engagement.
Flexibility is critical in determining tasks that your workers can execute remotely or within an office. For example, in behavioral health and human services, therapists and counselors can use secured telehealth technology for video counseling and follow-up care appointments with clients.
With ContinuumCloud’s CaredFor patient engagement solution, mental health therapists have the flexibility of working remotely and in the office when required while still providing patients and clients with access to the care they need.
Digital Technology for Remote Workforce Management in Behavioral Health Organizations
Clients will have more trust in behavioral health and human service organizations that have zero tolerance for unsecured access to protected health data and a high level of privacy and security.
Here are a few digital technologies you can use to strengthen data privacy and security:
- Virtual Private Network: Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a secured technology system that safeguards the network connection between a company’s network and an employee’s device. This prevents unauthorized access to your network and promotes client data protection. VPN encryption is vital for protecting data in electronic health record systems.
- Software-Defined Perimeter: Software-defined perimeter is a special encryption technology that confers extra security of data necessary in a remote workforce. Software-defined perimeter (SDP) only allows verified users and devices access to a network. SDP encryption is paramount for added cybersecurity if you have a highly diverse remote team working from different time zones and locations.
Using both VPN and SDP encryption technology in behavioral health and human services organizations’ network infrastructure provides trust signals for clients.
Digital Technology Tools for Remote Workforce Management
You can leverage digital technology tools to reduce the stress of handling a remote workforce. Here are a few digital tools for managing remote workers:
- Time tracking apps: These are special time management tools for check-ins and to help you track your team members' time to complete tasks. This also helps your finance team in tracking billable work hours. These apps are accessible using mobile smartphones.
- Real-time messaging apps: You can stay in touch with your remote workers using mobile messaging apps for real-time communication. Your remote workers can benefit from instant feedback from you when the need arises.
- Project management tools: Organizing and tracking your team’s performance and progress ensures efficient task completion. Project management apps like Slack allow remote workers to monitor milestones and remain motivated to complete work schedules.
- Video conferencing tools: Video conference tools such as Zoom aid real-time face-to-face communication and provide features for collaborative teamwork. However, you should select only HIPAA-compliant video conferencing platforms to ensure data security and privacy.
- Human capital management (HCM) tools: Cloud-based digital tools provide resources for managing costs and setting budgets in a diverse remote workplace. ContinuumCloud’s centralized HCM and payroll software empowers your human resources managers to budget and allocate resources all from one touchpoint while enabling employees to manage their time effectively no matter where they are.
ContinuumCloud’s HCM: A Remote Workforce Management Solution
While companies continue to adopt a remote work model, a hybrid workplace is yet another option for many organizations. As you transition into a hybrid workplace, it’s best to put in place the required work policies, collaboration tools, and office design to successfully manage your workers in the long run.
Employers in behavioral health and human services organizations with a remote workforce require both encryption technology and digital tools for remote workforce management. Often, these technological requirements must meet HIPAA privacy rules to protect your client's privacy and data.
ContinuumCloud’s cloud-based HCM and payroll solution is designed for managing a remote workforce in behavioral health and human services. Managers can support dynamic teams, budget effectively, and gain the workforce visibility they need, no matter where their employees are located. Meanwhile, employees have the mobile-optimized tools they need to track time, view important data, and do their best work.
Contact us to learn more about how ContinuumCloud’s HCM software solution can meet your unique workforce management needs.